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Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley

I just LOVE it when I try a new author and just fall head over heels in love with the story, the characters and the author's style but when it's a debut author? Even better because it feels like I uncovered a rare treasure along with other first time readers.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL/Signet Romance, DAW
Release Date: November 3, 2015

England, 1811. Delia Somerset despises the privileged ton, but her young sister, Lily, is desperate to escape their family’s scandalous past and join high society. Unwilling to upset her sister, Delia reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the Sutherland estate—and avoid the gossip at all costs.

Alec Sutherland is known as a hot-headed scoundrel, but nothing gets a rise out of him as much as the news that his brother desires Delia’s hand in marriage. She is, after all, the daughter of the London belle who soiled their family name. He’s determined to ruin her reputation as well, in the most delicious way possible. It’s only a matter of time before he can woo her with his irresistible advances.

As Delia devilishly plays along in Alec’s game, determined to prove the joke is on him, they inch ever closer to repeating history. And in this game of seductive glances, scandalous whispers, and old debts, the outcome might be much more than either of them anticipated…

Anna Bradley definitely brought her A-Game to her debut novel! A little nice and a lot naughty, A Wicked Way to Win an Earl is what I want to read in a historical romance. There’s the lofty, jaded and very wicked nobleman, Alec Sutherland, the Earl of Carlisle whom I liked despite his tendency to say the stupidest things out of fear, anger or denial.

Basically Delia Somerset would be happy rusticating in her family's country home, avoiding London society and its cruelties entirely but her sister Lily is determined to get away from their family's scandalous past and join London high society so Delia accompanies her to a party at the Sutherland estate. The same Sutherlands who are part of the Somerset scandal. When the Alec Sutherland, the Earl of Carlisle finds out that his brother is interested in Delia, he becomes determined to ruin her reputation before she ends up as part of the family. She's the daughter of the woman who soiled his family name so he feels entitled to do the same to Delia. Then the cat and mouse games begin.

From the moment he appeared I knew Alec was due for a hard time and wake up call. It was clear that while he loved his family and wanted to protect them, he didn’t much care for any other innocents outside of them nor did he care to find out the truth of situations that involved him or his family. Those traits were on top of the stubbornness and arrogance of the upper class. There were times I feared he was going to cross the line between redeemable rogue to irredeemable jerk but Alec always stopped short of that particular line. It was an interesting form of payback to watch Alec be taken down by his growing feelings towards Delia. Here was a mighty earl, hell bent on extracting revenge on the daughter of a woman he felt scandalized his family name yet he was quickly falling for Delia. It overwhelmed him and he acted like a fool, the exact opposite of how he had been taught to behave. It was humbling for him and I loved it.

The heroine, Delia is a clever woman and she doesn’t even realize it. Her kindness and lack of guile is what undermined Alec’s cold plans for her. It’s what makes him ashamed of himself. She doesn’t have to guilt trip him or anything, just be herself and the foolish man trips over himself in an effort to right the wrongs he’s done towards her. Like Alec, Delia feels a strong sense of loyalty towards her family. Her younger sisters especially. Usually in historical romance the heroine is very young and her immaturity shows in everything she says or does but with Delia I wasn’t frustrated by her lack of life experience or immaturity. Sure she was naïve but naïve is a far cry from stupid and insipid.

Usually the supporting cast of characters is left in the background throughout most of the story, only to brought out when the main couple needs to be pushed along, but with A Wicked Way to Win an Earl, Alec’s brother Robyn and Delia’s sister Lily played bigger roles in the overall plot.

Anna Bradley doesn’t limit the attention to the main couple but shares it with Robyn and Lily without making it seem like it’s their story. I learned a lot about Robyn and Lily without feeling that they were taking up too much time and space. They were two characters I also enjoyed. Robyn seemed like a fast paced, reckless fun kind of guy but Lily was more serious, down to Earth and to me way more mature than a girl her age should be.

A Wicked Way to Win an Earl had so much to recommend it that it’s impossible to list everything that made it a hard to put down book. The plot, the characters and the love story between Alec and Delia were so well done that the time flew by every time I was able to carve out some reading time. I looked forward to finishing my “adult” chores just so I could get back to this story! It’s a good thing that Alec has siblings because this book was just so delightful!

Final Verdict: Fun, witty and irresistible, Anna Bradley’s debut made me smile from start to finish. This is just how I like my historical romance! This author is definitely one to watch!

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